In every family/household/group/neighborhood/community, there are conversational topics that people who value harmony and dislike arguing try never to mention -- simply because they know in advance that there's no way to talk about them without the conversation and discussion degenerating into a flaming row. Abortion. Stem cell research. Immigration. The current war, wherever it may be. The set of topics varies from one group to another, but every group has a set like that. [And I suppose that there must be groups who follow the flip side of what I've just said -- that is, groups who love arguing and are bored by harmony and therefore gleefully introduce the flaming-row topics into conversations and discussions as often as they possibly can.]
In my own household and extended family -- which isn't one of the flip-side ones -- one of the most burdensome members of the set of contentious topics is Wal-Mart. We are as divided in our feelings about Wal-Mart as my childhood family was divided about the Civil War and the Southern Baptist Convention. We do our very best never to mention Wal-Mart. That's harder to do when you're almost within shouting distance of Wal-Mart's headquarters, but we make a sincere effort.
I'm extremely interested in knowing your feelings and opinions about Wal-Mart, because the more I read on the topic the more extraordinary it all seems -- but only if you think we could discuss it here without a lot of berserkery. If a batch of you tell me you feel so strongly about it that you don't think that's possible, I'm going to pitch the topic right over the side and never bring it up here again.
And of course you may tell me that you can't imagine why Wal-Mart would be a topic of controversy.... which would in itself be interesting.
I'll stand by.
I was expecting a dozen or so comments along the lines of "I think it would be a good idea to discuss Wal-Mart" and "Don't go there, please" and maybe "I don't really care whether we discuss Wal-Mart or not; it depends on whether you can find a way to make it interesting." We seem to have skipped that step.
I need to go back and read your comments -- for which I thank you -- more carefully, and then I'll be back.